Ahead of the Women’s Super League Grand Final, two members of Leeds Rhinos Foundation’s Learning Disability Super League team were given the chance to provide a helping hand with preparing the Rhinos’ changing room at Emerald Headingley Stadium.
As part of the Foundation’s support for the RLWC2021 Inclusive Volunteering Programme being delivered by partners Community Integrated Care, Chris and Tracey from Leeds Rhinos LDSL were invited by Women’s Team Manager Ellis Pascall and the charity’s Inclusive Volunteering Facilitator Ben Berry to help with setting up the facility for the Rhinos Women’s team before the showcase final.
The ground-breaking volunteering scheme has given more than 300 people, including players from the Community Integrated Care Learning Disability Super League competition, life-changing opportunities to discover and unlock their potential, through providing aspirational experiences, volunteering placements and specialist mentoring.
Jobs that needed to be completed included hanging up the players’ shirts and headshots on their individual locker spaces, laying out pairs of shorts and socks and making sure all the equipment was correctly laid out to help the coaching team and backroom staff carry out their matchday duties.
As well as enjoying their volunteering work, the two lifelong Rhinos fans were left in awe as they were guided through the inner sanctum of the brand new North Stand, making the most of their unique opportunity to explore the halls of fame along the tunnel which feature specially commissioned displays and a timeline of the both the club and stadium’s illustrious history.
Having experienced something that many Rhinos fans could only dream of doing, and brought even closer to the heart of the club’s operations, the pair were overwhelmed with emotion and left the stadium with an immense feeling of pride and gratitude.
“I’ve obviously represented the Rhinos as a player but it’s the first time for me actually working in the stadium and I’ve really enjoyed it,” explained Chris, who started playing for the Rhinos LDSL team back in 2019.
“What I’m getting out of the volunteering programme is having a chance to meet some of the players and staff that I haven’t had chance to meet before and obviously some amazing experiences like helping to get the dressing rooms and kit ready for a big Rhinos game, which was great.”
“It was a massive game for Leeds Rhinos Women having reached the final so many times and it was nice to be able to get involved in it, not just as a spectator watching the game on Sunday but also doing my bit to help the team pre-match.”
Thanking the couple for their efforts, Leeds Rhinos Women Team Manager Ellis Pascall said: “Having Chris and Tracey volunteering with me made my life a lot easier and it was great to give two players from our LDSL side this amazing opportunity.”
“It’s great to see the impact of the RLWC2021 Volunteering Programme and how the Foundation is utilising this to keep changing lives through sport. Rugby League is such an inclusive sport which attracts people of all backgrounds from far and wide, and it’s even better that we can get people with learning disabilities or physical disabilities involved in different ways around the club.
“Both the PDRL and LDSL teams are such a credit to Leeds Rhinos and it’s just great to have them on board with us. I’m thankful to Tracey and Chris for the fantastic help they gave me with setting up the changing room and I hope it’s something they can cherish for the rest of their lives.”
For more information about the inclusive volunteer programme launched by Community Integrated Care and RLWC2021, please visit https://www.rlwc2021.com/article/274/rlwc2021-and-community-integrated-care-launch-ground-breaking-inclusive-volunteer-programme.
If you are interested in joining Leeds Rhinos Foundation’s Learning Disability Super League team, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.